Senator Kwame RaoulSPRINGFIELD – Thanks to legislation sponsored by Senator Kwame Raoul (D-13th), Illinois law now allows first-time, non-violent offenders to participate in a two-year diversion program similar to probation. Once they successfully complete the program, their records will immediately be expunged, increasing their odds of getting a job and staying out of prison.

“It’s not enough just to be tough on crime; we have to be smart on crime,” Sen. Raoul said. “With our prisons filled beyond their intended capacity and our state budget stretched thin, we simply can’t afford to lock away non-violent offenders with a high likelihood of making restitution, addressing any behavioral or substance abuse problems, and turning their lives around. Enrolling these individuals in alternative programs will be cheaper and more effective than traditional incarceration.”

Senate Bill 3349, signed today by Governor Quinn, allows offenders convicted or indicted on certain felony charges (including burglary, theft, forgery, possession of a stolen vehicle, and drug possession) to participate in the “offender initiative” program only with the consent of the state’s attorney and a judge. During their two years in the program, offenders must meet minimum conditions set by a judge, such as making restitution to victims, performing community service, holding a job, completing a treatment program, and/or passing drug tests. Participants may not own a firearm during the probation period, and if they reoffend within five years, the expunged records can still be used against them in a trial.

“It has been an honor to work with Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and her office on this legislation,” said Sen. Raoul, who this spring also sponsored a new “early release” law with comprehensive safeguards. “We have seen this year that there is bipartisan momentum toward addressing the aspects of our correctional system that aren’t working and adopting tools to help us utilize our resources wisely.”

CHICAGO — More than 18 months have passed since Haiti was devastated by a catastrophic 7.0 earthquake and rebuilding Haiti is still a work in progress. State Senator Kwame Raoul of Chicago continues to collaborate with International Child Care (ICC), Children’s Memorial Hospital (CMH) and Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine’s Global Health Initiative to help resurrect the Grace Children’s Hospital (GCH) in Haiti. On Wednesday ICC is hosting a dinner at 6:30 p.m. at the Union Club in Chicago to address progress and challenges with the GCH reconstruction.

“I am proud to work with a Chicago-based coalition to continue to aid Haiti, focusing on rebuilding GCH as a resource for pediatric healthcare needs,” said Senator Raoul. “Thousands of children and families will benefit from a fully operational GCH and this Chicago-Haiti partnership will continue working to make sure this hospital and other resources are provided.

ICC has been serving the people of Haiti and the Dominican Republic for 43 years and they assist more than 200,000 people in those nations annually. John Yates, International Director for ICC and representatives from CMH will share specific insights on Wednesday regarding the reconstruction and additional goals to revitalize Haiti.

For Senator Raoul helping improve life for Haitians is a deeply personal commitment. Raoul was born in Chicago to Haitian-born immigrants and he still has family who live in Haiti. His father practiced medicine, made house calls to the underserved and underprivileged across Chicago, and was a board member of International Child Care and now Senator Raoul is an ICC board member.

Business professionals, public officials, architects, doctors, philanthropists and other supporters will participate in Wednesday’s meeting.

CHICAGO – State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) will preside over a public hearing on Tuesday, December 6th to address historic disparities within the state’s pension investment firms and identify prospects for progress. Senator Raoul has been a long-time advocate for increased opportunities for Minority and Women-owned Businesses (M/WBE) in Illinois.

“A healthy Illinois business community should mean fair opportunities for all,” Raoul said. “This hearing is an opportunity to inform minority and women financial service professionals, get vital public input, and review the progress public pension funds have made in their M/WBE inclusion policy.”

As Chairman of the Senate Pensions and Investments Committee, Raoul has held annual hearings focusing on the engagement of M/WBE with the state’s pension firms, the General Assembly’s efforts to encourage pension funds to diversify the financial service firms they utilize and other key issues.

WHO: State Senator Kwame Raoul, Senate Pensions and Investments Committee members, M/WBE community and other business professionals

WHAT: Public Hearing on M/WBE inclusion in Pension Investments

WHEN: 9 a.m. on Tuesday, December 6, 2011

WHERE: Michael A. Bilandic Building, 160 N. LaSalle St., 6th Floor Committee Room.  Chicago, IL 60601

SPRINGFIELD - State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) sponsored and passed legislation to strengthen an existing law which mandates that those who are convicted of corruption must forfeit their profits.  House Bill 909 expands the Public Corruption Profit Forfeiture Act so that those who fraudulently obtain money reserved for minority or women owned businesses must return all profits, property and property interest to the state.

“We are already falling short with supporting women and minority businesses in Illinois, and I have been an advocate to address this issue,” Senator Raoul said. “We cannot allow this problem to be exacerbated by those who seek to fraudulently put themselves forth as a minority or women owned business.”

The specific charges that the expanded Public Corruption Profit Forfeiture Act will address include bribery, kickbacks and intimidation of a public official. Raoul worked with the Attorney General Lisa Madigan on this legislation.

“Businesses that defraud the taxpayers cannot be allowed to profit from their illegal conduct,” said Attorney General Madigan. “This bill will make it easier to go after those profits and make sure that defrauding programs designed to benefit legitimate businesses does not pay.”

The Office of the Attorney General indicted Robert Blum and Castle Construction Corporation for fraudulently obtaining public money reserved for disadvantaged businesses in 2009, resulting in a March 2011 conviction. Subsequently, the Attorney General sued Blum and Castle for their actions, but a review of the defendant’s assets by the courts concluded they were no longer liable. HB 909 will correct this type of discrepancy.

The legislation has passed out of the Illinois General Assembly and will head to Governor Pat Quinn to be signed into law.

raoul-sealThe Illinois Voting Rights Act of 2011 and Redistricting Transparency and Public Participation Act will serve as a game changer in the upcoming redistricting process.

“The Senate’s Redistricting Committee has taken redistricting reform very seriously since its creation.

Republicans and Democrats weren’t able to agree on a constitutional amendment this spring but it’s good to see the Senate pass legislation on a bipartisan basis today to change the status quo,” said Senate Redistricting Chair Kwame Raoul. “This legislation will protect minority voting rights and encourage public participation.”